Working with MP3 and Other Audio Files


In a VisiTrax music library database, each track can optionally be linked to a corresponding audio file (such as MP3). When combined with Winamp (v5 or v2.9), this lets you do the following things:

Import Winamp playlists into VisiTrax as new volumes
Propagate audio file links to other identically-named tracks
Update and consolidate audio file links
Schedule and initiate play of individual audio files, or sets of audio files, from VisiTrax

Winamp is a freeware player for MP3 and other audio files. It is available for download at Winamp supports a large number of third-party plug-ins that add to its basic capabilities. VisiTrax complements Winamp with its ability to organize all your music media in one place, and with its powerful, filter-based music search capability.

Importing a Winamp Playlist

A Winamp playlist can be imported as a new VisiTrax volume. To do this:

Using Winamp, create the playlist you wish to have imported.
Leave Winamp running and switch to VisiTrax.
From the VisiTrax Edit menu, choose New Volume...
Within the Add New Volume dialog that appears, fill in the basic details for the new volume. For Media Format, enter something suitable, such as "Audio Files".
Click the Import Winamp Playlist checkbox control at the bottom of the dialog (so that it is checked), then click Add.

If the playlist to be imported contains one or more duplicates of tracks already in your library database, VisiTrax will ask if you want to skip the duplicates. ("Duplicates" in this sense means tracks referring to the same audio file path.)

Propagating Audio File Links

To propagate audio file links from tracks already linked to audio files, to like-named tracks in the same library database, do this:

In the Tracks view, select the set of tracks to which you want audio file links added (remove all filters if you want this done to all tracks possible). Alternatively, if you wish to limit this to a specific volume, go to the Volume Contents view for that volume.
From the Edit menu, choose Update Audio File Links.

Link propagation will be limited to tracks with identical titles and artist names, and with reasonably similar playing times.

Updating Links to Moved Audio Files

If your linked-to audio files are spread among two or more directories, and you move some of the files from one such directory to another, the Update Audio File Links function described above will also update the file path information for your audio file links. It does this by checking whether each linked file's path is valid, and if not, it then looks for the same named file within those directories used by other linked-to audio files.

Removing Redundant Audio File Tracks

You may find that, after propagating audio file links from an imported Winamp playlist volume to other tracks in your database, there is no longer any reason to keep the imported audio file tracks around. For example, perhaps you have generated MP3 files from a CD in your library database, then imported the MP3 tracks from Winamp back into VisiTrax. You now have two entries for each track (the original CD track, and its MP3 copy). Or perhaps you have done this for 100 CDs (whew!).

Before removing the tracks you believe to be redundant, it would help to confirm that their links links did indeed propagate successfully to other tracks. This can be done by looking at the imported volume's contents with the Volume Contents view, and examining the Alt Source column (this is an "extra" column you'll probably need to bring into view). If a selected track's audio file link is also linked to from some other track in your library, this will appear in the Alt Source column for that track. If Alt Source is blank for a selected track, then its audio file link (if any) has not been propagated. (Again, automatic link propagation relies on identical titles and artist names, as well as closely matching playing times.)

Hint: To identify tracks that have audio file links, view the File Name column.

Playing Selected Audio File Tracks (or Volumes)

To initiate play for any selected track that contains an audio file link (or if in the Volumes view, for a selected volume's tracks), do any of the following:

click the PlayAudio toolbar button; or
choose Play Selected Track or Volume from the right-click menu; or
press the "." (period or full-stop) key.

If Winamp v5 (or v2.9) is installed, this will add the track (or the volume's tracks) to Winamp's playlist, and initiate play if not already playing. If Winamp is not installed, this will initiate play of a single track if a suitable player program has been associated with the audio file's type.

Playing all the Audio Files in a Playlist

VisiTrax's playlist capability can be used to very good advantage in conjunction with Winamp. You can create any number of saved playlists of tracks that are linked to audio files. When in the Playlist view, you can transfer its current playlist to Winamp's playlist by doing either of the following:

click the PlayAudioList toolbar button; or
choose Play All Audio Files in Playlist from the right-click menu.

This will append your playlist's files to Winamp's playlist, in the exact sequence listed, and Winamp will begin playing them (if it's not already playing something). Duplicate tracks preceding the new set (other than the currently playing track) will be removed from Winamp's current playlist, but other tracks will remain in Winamp's playing queue.

Special File Path Considerations

To successfully queue audio files to Winamp or another player program, VisiTrax must retain complete pathnames in its own links to those files. This can be an important consideration in a few situations:

1.To use a shared VisiTrax library to link to shared audio files within a local network, establish a common shared folder for the audio files, and use a common linkage name for that folder that all the PCs on that network will understand. One way to do this is to assign a drive letter to the shared folder, and assign that same drive letter mapping on each PC. A possibly better alternative is to use UNC naming (e.g. "\\office\Shared Audio"); the advantage of this latter approach is that drive letter mapping doesn't need to be set up on each PC. [Windows 2000 and Windows XP support UNC naming.]
2.If you migrate to a new PC and the audio files end up in a different path than before, the audio file links in your VisiTrax library will need to be updated to reflect this. Performing this update is not necessarily a tedious thing to do: for example, you could temporarily export your library to a text file, edit the text file and then re-import the data; alternatively, you also could use the Update Audio File Links feature to advantage.
3.For audio files located anywhere under the VisiTrax program's own folder (the one containing VisiTrax.exe), VisiTrax records the links using relative rather than absolute path names when writing to a .TRX library file.  Then, whenever that .TRX library file is opened again, the absolute path names are reconstituted based on the location from which VisiTrax starts. [This provides yet another network sharing alternative: you could locate all the audio files under a shared folder containing VisiTrax.exe, and have all the PCs run VisiTrax from that single location; on each PC, the audio file links would then be based on the path of the VisiTrax executable.]

Copyright 2006 Synapsa Productions